Pubs share the secrets of their towns

“BREWERS, Barmaids & Boozers: a history of Tooth & Co. Ltd” is an exhibition in the foyer of the Menzies Library at ANU and offers a rare insight into the history of some of Australia’s oldest pubs, says ANU archivist Catherine Ziegler.

At the centre of the project is Tooth and Company, a major beer producer in NSW for more than 150 years. At its peak Tooth & Co. Ltd owned more than 700 hotels across NSW.

Ms Ziegler says the project has something from very nearly every town in NSW and “gives an indication of what was going on in the town and even what the major industry was, whether it was mining or grain or sheep”.

The project involved digitising a series of hotel cards dating back to 1920. The cards were used by Tooth & Co to keep track of their hotels and offer a unique insight into the operations of early century pubs, including beer stocks and quantities, the local economy and hotel life.

“This is not just births, deaths and marriages, there are really great details about the lives of the people who were living and working there – and the cards are just the tip of the iceberg,” Ms Ziegler says.

It highlights how useful the records have been for researchers, helping with everything from piecing together family histories to re-creating old beer recipes.

“One of the most interesting stories we’ve uncovered is about Annie Furlong, who was barred from becoming the licensee of the Oaks Hotel in Sydney during the war because she was a spinster,” she says.

The cards are available online with a special interactive map and exhibition runs until Friday, July 13. 

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